Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a highly revered figure in British politics and the only woman to ever become British Prime Minster, has died at the age of 87. She suffered a stroke according to her spokeswoman.
Margaret Thatcher was a prominent political figure in the 20th century who has influenced so many and her presence remains in many political ideologies. Thatcher, undeniably, was a revolutionary woman who most definitely earned her title as the “Iron Lady.”
Thatcher served as Education Minister from 1970 to 1974, a time of prominent student radicalism and uncivil British politics. Despite her opposition, she successfully executed her job. Her resilience and determination led her to defeat Edward Heath in the first ballot for Conservative leadership on February 4th, 1975. Just seven days later, Thatcher was elected Conservative leader on the second ballot and became Leader of the Opposition.
Thatcher served as Leader of the Opposition from 1975 to 1979. It was during this time that she became the face of the ideological movement opposing the welfare state. As Leader of the Opposition, Thatcher made a speech on January 19th, 1976 attacking the Soviet Union. This speech led the Soviet Defense Newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda to name her the “Iron Lady,” a nickname that she proudly accepted.
As the General Election approached, in mid-1978 opinion polls began to show the Labour Party in the lead. Prime Minister James Callaghan, a Labour Party member, declared there would be no autumn General Election. Margaret Thatcher and Liberal Party Leader, David Steel, both accused the government of “running scared.” Thatcher moreover made a speech in Lichfield calling government members “chickens.” These comments forced the Labour Party to face public unease in the form of damaging strikes, which later became known as the “Winter of Discontent.” On March 28th, 1979, the Labour Government fell, paving way for a new Prime Minister. After the General Election, on May 4th, 1979, Margaret Thatcher was appointed Prime Minister.
Thatcher served as Prime Minister for three terms, spanning from 1979 to 1990, making her the longest-serving Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Over this stretch of time, Thatcher introduced a multitude of political and economic initiatives to better the British economy and society as a whole. She met weekly with Queen Elizabeth II to discuss governmental issues, lowered taxes on income and increased indirect taxes, reduced the power of trade unions, and privatized state-owned companies, just to name a few of the many tasks that she took on to bolster the British economy. Under her guidance, the British economy began to recover and prosper. With the government, she further encouraged the spread of democracy and the growth of free markets. Margaret Thatcher’s extraordinary leadership led her to become one of the most influential and respected political leaders of all time.
For many Americans, Thatcher may be most well known for her work with President Ronald Reagan. Thatcher and Reagan together provided a counterbalance to the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Thatcher additionally spoke highly of the Reagan administration’s foreign policies in a speech to the United States Congress in 1985. Besides her work with President Reagan, Thatcher also prompted President George H.W. Bush to intervene militarily in the Persian Gulf when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.
There are many great events to look back upon in the life of Margaret Thatcher which all prove that the life of the Iron Lady will never be forgotten.
Please visit http://www.margaretthatcher.org for more on the life of Margaret Thatcher.